Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lord, Our Hope Is In You

December 21, 2010
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

By Beth DeCristofaro

My lover speaks; he says to me, “Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! “For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. (Song of Songs 2:10-11)

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke1:41-45)

Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and shield.
For in God our hearts rejoice; in your holy name we trust.
May your kindness, LORD, be upon us; we have put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22)

In a column in National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Richard McBrian wrote: “Advent is a month-long liturgical season, ending with Christmas, that focuses the Church's attention on the threefold coming of Christ: in the past, as the Christ-child of Bethlehem; in the present, as spiritual food and drink in the Eucharist; and in the future, as the One who brings history to a gloriously redemptive end.”

Today in the readings, we have the glorious hope in Song of Songs that recognizes the triumph of Spring over the darkness of Winter. And we have Elizabeth’s exultant words which show that she, a pregnant woman of Israel greeting a beloved kinswoman, recognizes the transcendent reality and promise in that sacred moment. God is present in the truly mundane.

I wonder how much I actually understand and appreciate the presence of Christ available to me in the food and drink of the Eucharist as Elizabeth, and John in her womb, understood the presence of the yet unborn Christ. What I do know is that even without understanding, I have been given the grace to believe; my heart rejoices and in Christ’s holy name I trust that He understands even if I do not. In Mary and Elizabeth’s joyous greeting, I doubt that they truly understood the full ramifications of these births – John’s and Jesus’s – how they would change their world or what suffering all would undergo. But these two women both put their trust in God and rejoiced in the moment of joy that women or men experience who wait upon new life – the Springtime of a redeemed world.

Reread and reflect upon the passage from Luke in which Mary visits Elizabeth. Take time with the passage and put yourself into the story. Be present, through your imagination in the past coming of the Christ-child. Then, the next time you are at Mass, return to your reflection and consider the spiritual food and drink you receive at Eucharist. You can greet Christ just as Elizabeth and John did 2,000 years ago. You are invited through your Baptism and through your participation in the spiritual meal to be part of the glorious redemption at history’s end.